Breakfast brand Soulfull says will use Tata’s distribution chain for reach

Soulfull, a millet-based cereal and snacking brand acquired by Tata Consumer Products Ltd (TCPL) plans to expand its distribution network by more at least three times, said Prashant Parameswaran, Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the company.

Tata Consumer Private Ltd has a reach in around 12,000-15,000 outlets spread across 12 cities in India, most of which is located in metro and urban areas.

“Post the acquisition by TCPL, we aim to tap into the parent company’s vast distribution network spread across India. From the TCPL side, fits into its existing portfolio of teas and salt as a healthy millet-based on-the-go ready snacking brand,” Parameswaran told Business Standard.

TCPL acquired Kottaram Agro Foods Ltd, the owner of brand, for an enterprise value of around Rs 155 crore a few weeks ago.

Soulfull, which was started in 2013 by US-returned Prashant Parameswaran, has placed itself as a niche brand with a strong focus on reinventing millets in a modern format.

Soulfull is looking to expand the current basket of ready on-to-go snacks and cereals all made from millets into other offerings in the health and wellness portfolio.

The health and wellness portfolio is estimated to be a Rs 20,000 crore market of which the various arms such as cereals, snacking etc is growing at around 15 per cent per annum. Millet-based products are part of this health and wellness portfolio.

“We have a product called ‘Smoothix’ which is a millet-based health drink, presently sold only through the online medium. But, we are soon looking to sell this through the offline format as well,” Parameswaran said.

He said TCPL, saw in Soulfull, a brand which has a good product, good innovation, big in technology, ability to get into a scalable business and traction of a brand.

Soulfull did a turnover of around Rs 30 crore in Fy-20, which is expected to grow manifold post the acquisition by Tata Consumer Products Ltd.

Parameswaram, says that in the last few years more than 50 per cent of the millet consumption has been moving into alternative space and not just staples such breads (rotis) or mix.

“All major FMCG firms already have a presence in the FMCG format but very few can claim to have standalone products,” Parmeswaran said.

He said procurement and production of millers such as ragi, jowar and bajra isn’t a problem as data shows that production has risen sharply in the last 17 years or so.

Parmeswaran, who says he was heavily inspired by the growth and popularity of Peruvian ‘Quinoa’ during his stint in Safeway Supermarket in the US, feels that the Indian government’s push to declare 2023 as the ‘International Year of Millets’ will do the same for Indian millets and it will lead to a quantum jump.

“I got curious about ‘Quinoa’, when I was on the other side and when I started researching and studying about the same, found it to be very similar to Indian millets and then when I left my job and came to India I started this venture initially with some seed capital from friends and then a series ‘A’ funding came later,” Parmeswaran said.

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